Border Patrol Prepare for Search, Recovery Efforts During Cold Weather
WESLACO – U.S. Border Patrol is preparing for search and recovery missions in the colder temperatures. Like the extreme heat, Border Patrol says the extreme cold could have severe consequences for immigrants heading north.
Agents tell CHANNEL 5 NEWS people crossing the river who exit wearing damp clothing could find themselves in life or death situations.
Cold temperatures across the Rio Grande Valley don’t necessarily slow down illegal crossings at the border. Border Patrol Agent Marcelino Medina says smugglers set the pace for traffic.
“The smugglers are really what dictate what goes and what doesn’t go," said Marcelino. "So if a smuggler anticipates an advantage in some way form or fashion, they’ll take it.”
Some people entering the country illegally may not be prepared to withstand the near-freezing temperatures.
Others may not have dry clothes to change into after crossing the river. Wearing damp clothing in the journey north in these conditions can have dire consequences.
"In these types of extreme cold temperatures, they’re very ill-prepared," said Medina. "They’re not wearing the proper jackets. They’re not wearing things to protect their extremities, so they are susceptible to things like hypothermia.”
Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it. According to the Mayo Clinic, it could cause heart or respiratory system failure, or even death, if left untreated.
During the most recent cold spell, ten immigrants passed away on their journey north. Eight succumbed to their injuries in the Falfurrias area.
Border patrol has a special unit called BORSTAR, or Border Search Trauma and Rescue. They’re on high alert in preparation for another cold night in the Valley.
“In anticipation to that, we do send additional units to the northern stations to help try to locate these individuals that might be in dire need of help,” said Medina.
These agents are certified as emergency medical technicians and prepared for rescue situations.
At last word, there have been no reports of immigrants who have succumbed to the cold during this cold spell.
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